Kraftwerk 3D

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Kraftwerk 3D

Post by calaverasgrande » Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:05 pm

Just caught the Teutonic legends the other night at Oakland's Fox theater.
It was a pretty great show, even if I was disappointed by some of the more "ravey" re-imaginings of their classic songs.
I had a pretty awful seat up in the nosebleeds, so I could not indulge my gear fetishist curiosity about what they were playing on.
I've googled myself blind and can't find any specifics about what they are performing, er, operating on.
I have found a few interesting references to Doepfer and Quasimidi. Also there was a mention in one article that only 3 of them are playing the music, the 4th is at the controls of the video projection elements.
Anyone catch Kraftwerk and snag a pic of what is on those consoles?
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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by Bitexion » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:24 pm

Tape playback and lots of things with blinking lights?

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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by seamonkey » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:13 pm

After doing a search for about 20 minutes, I have to say it's near impossible to find any information regarding their gear list for the 2014 tour.
I don't think the NSA even knows.

From the photo I did see, I would guess they're using controllers with laptops, and we know how sexy that can look.;)
So I suspect that's the reason there is zero information available.
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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by calaverasgrande » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:48 pm

Bitexion wrote:Tape playback and lots of things with blinking lights?
that did occur to me,
however there were a couple flubs where one guy kept playing the verse section straight into the bridge.
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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by Re-Member » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:58 pm

When I saw them back in 2005, all four members had custom built controller consoles with laptop screens attached. I had a good seat and could look down at everything they were doing, but I couldn't see what was being displayed on their screens. Ralf Hutter (vocals) and the person to the right of him had keyboards on their consoles, but only Ralf appeared to be playing live on specific songs while the other guy was twisting knobs and actually miming on the keyboard. The other two members had consoles with loads of faders and knobs, plus a touch pad. To my eyes, they were just doing live sound manipulation to pre-sequenced tracks, but not actually triggering anything in real-time.

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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by calaverasgrande » Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:07 pm

Re-Member wrote:When I saw them back in 2005, all four members had custom built controller consoles with laptop screens attached. I had a good seat and could look down at everything they were doing, but I couldn't see what was being displayed on their screens. Ralf Hutter (vocals) and the person to the right of him had keyboards on their consoles, but only Ralf appeared to be playing live on specific songs while the other guy was twisting knobs and actually miming on the keyboard. The other two members had consoles with loads of faders and knobs, plus a touch pad. To my eyes, they were just doing live sound manipulation to pre-sequenced tracks, but not actually triggering anything in real-time.
I think they are possibly doing something liek this now.
Personally I don't really make a distinction about whether it is being played by a hand or sequenced. Quite a lot of the elctronic music that is made relies on letting the sequencer handle the notes while the musician (or operator in the case of Kraftwerk) handles modulation, cutoff, etc.
There is a lot to be said for this approach. Correct me if I am wrong but isn't the bridge/lead of "its more fun to Compute" basically just a sequence with additional steps turned on every other of measure?
I know I am on shaky ground saying this, but it certainly sounded like analog gear to me several times in the show.
And in the few images of the back of the consoles I can find, there are a lot of cables coming out of them. More than you would need for a controller triggering playback of samples or loops.
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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by seamonkey » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:43 pm

If they are miming and just manipulating tracks it is indeed a sad day.

I doubt very seriously if they are doing something like this, they care whether they use analog or not.

Has Kraftwerk become the new Milli Vanilli? :cry:
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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by Bitexion » Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:12 pm

I'm the in Jean-Michel Jarre camp, he's been promoting the fact that "3 guys standing still twiddling some synthesizers does not make for a fun show to watch" for more than 30 years.

So play tapes and sequencers all you want if it leaves your hands free to do other things. Use skyscapers as projection walls.
You're there to entertain people not stand behind a wall of synths and not show your face for 3 hours.

Even when he did the Oxygene in the Livingroom tour, where the 4 of them actually played every single part (except for the famous sequenced parts like in Oxygene 5), he installed a massive mirror above the stage that lowered and raised, showing the audience the guys on stage from above at all times, and adding various mood lighting to each song.

He'd also himself leave his pile of synths and go front-stage and cheer on the audience and talk between songs.

A parallell can be drawn to the 90s boyband craze aswell, that pretty much took over the world. Kids were there to watch their sexy idols dance choreographically and jump around, not judge how their a capella voices and backing band sounded like.

Or look at Elvis back in the day. He didn't HAVE to wear outrageous jumpsuits and capes to perform his music, or gyrate his hips and play pranks on his backing band all the time, but he did, and that's what made him such a phenomenon.
Nor did Elton John have to look like a reneissance drag queen on stage.

The other side of the plate were the shoegazing britpop bands at the end of the 90s. They'd fill up a whole Wembley Stadium and there's just 2 guys holding a guitar each looking down at their shoes for 2 hours playing a "greatest hits" set.
Last edited by Bitexion on Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by Re-Member » Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:27 pm

calaverasgrande wrote:Correct me if I am wrong but isn't the bridge/lead of "its more fun to Compute" basically just a sequence with additional steps turned on every other of measure?
I know I am on shaky ground saying this, but it certainly sounded like analog gear to me several times in the show.
And in the few images of the back of the consoles I can find, there are a lot of cables coming out of them. More than you would need for a controller triggering playback of samples or loops.
A good chunk of their music is sequencer based even on their records, so I don't view what they are doing live now as a bad thing. I think having them play everything by hand or expecting dozens of analog synth modules all wired up in their consoles is asking a bit too much from them at their age, haha. If they did, they wouldn't need those screens for that. As for the cables coming out the back of their consoles, they probably have multiple line outs for each synth track being produced and manipulated within the DAW they are running as opposed to running off a single DAT source. When I saw them live though, it was just sitting on a big pillar with no cables, but it was an outdoor venue and probably had them tucked away in case of rain.

Also, this page has an interesting comment toward the bottom...

http://createdigitalmusic.com/2012/06/p ... and-video/

"By the 1981 world tour, Kraftwerk were using a backing tape on open reel. It even had the little errors pre-recorded. The big pile of equipment was hollow and packed flat into road cases. I know this having shared the same stage PA manager."

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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by calaverasgrande » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:06 am

But then of course there are bands like devo that have been sounding like they were sequenced for a long time before they actually were.
So it is not impossible to think that 4 guys could play all the notes. I just don't think it is part of the modernist aesthetic of Kraftwerk to be faultless musicians when a microprocessor can do the job for you.
Just gotta say though, while the performers did stick to their podiums and operate the tunes with passionless faces. The visuals were very good and added quite a bit to the experience. If anything the whole blank face and minimal robotic movements is very much part of their shtick. They are wearing outifts that intend to make them look like the wireframe CG version of themselves after all!
It is a shame that the stage of the fox was not wider, as several montages were obviously intended for a wider screen.
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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by Re-Member » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:34 am

calaverasgrande wrote:But then of course there are bands like devo that have been sounding like they were sequenced for a long time before they actually were.
So it is not impossible to think that 4 guys could play all the notes.
Well, I never said it was impossible, I just said the likelihood of them doing it now doesn't seem to be in line with what what's actually being presented in their shows today. Kraftwerk playing Autobahn live back in 1975 was an entirely different approach compared how they play it now. Their updated songs follow the same structure as what was put out in the "The Mix" album, plus live versions of tracks off "Tour de France Soundtracks" vary little from the album versions. Don't get me wrong here, when I'm saying they are up there tweaking sequenced tracks, I'm not implying anything negative. Electronic acts have been doing this for decades now. Likewise, I enjoyed their show quite a bit, own all their albums and consider them one of my favorite bands.
calaverasgrande wrote:I just don't think it is part of the modernist aesthetic of Kraftwerk to be faultless musicians when a microprocessor can do the job for you.
I don't know about this now, haha. The always thought that this is was the whole concept behind the "Computer World" album. Plus at one point in time, they abandoned all their analog gear and replaced it with digital technology because they thought it was imperfect. That's sort of why "The Mix" came out not-so-great sounding.

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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by Jinsai » Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:03 am

I was also at the show. The "ravey" reimaginings were basically "The Mix" versions.

They were clearly NOT playing notes on MIDI keyboards - even from my balcony seats, that was obvious. I got the impression they were triggering loops or sections (MIDI or audio) in realtime. There were at least 2 obvious flubs, and a few cases where the sync between the loops was lagging.

I'd be surprised if they had any actual gear. I think it was all pre-recorded and/or softsynths.

Also? It was awesome.
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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by Bitexion » Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:55 am

That's what I was saying in my TL;DR post above. Not playing every single part live doesn't make the show any less boring. Since they have time to do other things rather than hiding beneath a wall of synths each.

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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by calaverasgrande » Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:33 am

I'm basically wondering if they are using some kind of midi/cv sequencer to provide an "analog" controller for a sound module synth.
That is kind of how it appeared to me from the way some phrases were manipulated in real time.
There were several instances where I could see a performers movements (at whatever device) were obviously controlling cutoff or modulation.
As far as triggering loops, how can we even tell if its a DAW loop of a sequenced analog or actual sequenced analog?
(Or sequenced softsynths)
I tend to lean towards thinking that if anyone could pull off still rocking anaog gear it is these guys.
They would certainly have the ear of any manufacturer if they wanted some technical impediment addressed. So I believe they could do it that way, with all the actual sound generating gear offstage.
But then they are also 60 somethings, and coming from the EU.
So they are less likely to put a on of effort into doing it the old way just for nerd points, and probably have to pay a tax for shipping mondo gear out of and back into the EU.

though it was a pricey show, and the tshirts were crazy expensive....

ps I had no idea "Numbers" could rock so hard. That one bumped pretty good!
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Re: Kraftwerk 3D

Post by Re-Member » Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:02 am

calaverasgrande wrote:I'm basically wondering if they are using some kind of midi/cv sequencer to provide an "analog" controller for a sound module synth.
MIDI and CV are two entirely different things. A MIDI controller or sequencer is pretty much self-contained and can manipulate 16 different sounds at once depending on how the CC data and MIDI channels are set up. CV, on the other hand, has to be patched into each individual parameter is it modulating. On top of that, each individual sound would require it's own individual synth module with patching points.
calaverasgrande wrote:That is kind of how it appeared to me from the way some phrases were manipulated in real time.
There were several instances where I could see a performers movements (at whatever device) were obviously controlling cutoff or modulation.
The same can be done by connecting any type of MIDI controller with knobs that control CC data to a synth module or DAW that can receive these messages.
calaverasgrande wrote:As far as triggering loops, how can we even tell if its a DAW loop of a sequenced analog or actual sequenced analog?
(Or sequenced softsynths)
Triggering loops could mean any number of things. Could be a sample of audio, could be a MIDI sequence playing back digital hardware, analog gear, or even softsynths. But in Kraftwerk's case, I think relying on triggering loops in real time would prove too risky considering they have a backing projection to stay in sync with. The fact that each member has a screen in front of them pretty much means a DAW is being utilized in some way either as a sequencer and/or sound source. Having sequenced tracks doesn't necessarily mean that every note or parameter change for every sound being heard is entirely automated. I've actually played live with sequenced tracks for years now, but I also play lead melodies by hand while tweaking out the sequenced sounds via MIDI CC in real time.

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